George Russell, Williams, Imola, 2020

Russell explains letter to team apologising for “unacceptable” Imola Safety Car crash

2020 Turkish Grand Prix

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George Russell says the letter he sent his Williams team apologising for his crash behind the Safety Car in the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix wasn’t the first time he’s written to them in this way.

As RaceFans revealed last week, Russell wrote to the team offering his “sincere apologies” for crashing on the approach to Acque Minerale while trying to warm his tyres behind the Safety Car. He was on course for a top 10 finish at the time, which would have been the first points score of his career and the team’s first of the season.

Russell said his message “wasn’t necessarily an ‘apology letter’ it was just more a letter to the team.”

“I often send my thoughts and views to them,” he explained. “Obviously firstly I was apologising for the mistake I made which was, I felt, unacceptable from my side.”

He also told his team he does not intend to change his approach to racing in reaction to the crash.

“Following that mistake it gave me a bit of time to think about the racing approach. Racing sometimes rewards risk-takers but it also sometimes rewards a more cautious approach.

“Last weekend perhaps or probably most likely I would have come away with a result had I taken the more cautious approach. But it then made me think where do you draw the line? Do you be more cautious on your quali lap? Do you be more cautious with the set-up? Do you be more cautious with the pit stop?

“We’re all racers, we’re all here to absolutely push boundaries and in dong that mistakes will come along. And it also made me thing should we fear mistakes and I don’t think we should. This is what I said to them.

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“Do I regret what happened? Absolutely. But will it change my approach this weekend and moving forwards? No it won’t. And we’re all here to push the boundaries because we’re all racers and that’s what we do when we go racing.”

Russell admitted the memory of the mistake was “still gutting” and felt worse than other errors he made earlier in his career.

“But I think in life you’ve got to move on, look forward and forget and learn from from the past and your mistakes. I think in the long run it will help me to become a more rounded, stronger driver.

“Because of the nature of the mistake it was a very different feeling to other times when I’ve made big mistakes in my career in junior formulas: When I’ve thrown the car in the wall in Monaco, for example, or crashed fighting for the lead in Formula 3.”

Lewis Hamilton, Romain Grosjean and others sent Russell messages of support following the crash.

“I had a huge amount of support which meant a huge amount to me,” said Russell. “It was very surprising: From race winners, fellow drivers, ex-world champions, even people outside of Formula 1.

“Getting that support, obviously everybody knows that we are pushing to the absolute limit and sometimes the car can just go from nowhere. It meant a lot but it doesn’t take anything away from the mistake I made but it’ll help me moving forward, I’m sure.”

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2020 Turkish Grand Prix

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    Author information

    Dieter Rencken
    Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    4 comments on “Russell explains letter to team apologising for “unacceptable” Imola Safety Car crash”

    1. Yeah, that fits with what we recently got about Russel posting regular race analyses to the team even before he became an F1 driver. Top bloke

    2. I worry for George. Having watched his career from the early days, I so desperately want him to take the next step up towards the front where he deserves to be, however. he just seems like too much of a nice guy

      G

    3. Now I don’t want a third driver to be struck by the Safety Car curse.

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